005 – Elf!? Why an Elf!?
The Trading Colony [Termaine Prime] I was currently at was a Torus-type… nah, it would be easier to picture if I described it as a Doughnut-type. Anyways, it’s a Doughnut-type space colony.
The colony was designed to continuously rotate, and the resulting centrifugal force, in turn, generates artificial gravity. Since the gravity was generated by centrifugal force, the outer areas of the “doughnut” serve as the main living zone of the colony.
“Hm. This is certainly an impressive sight.”
When you move your gaze towards a certain direction, you’d be able to witness the ground going upwards; seemingly without end. If you look towards the “sky”, you could see a ceiling made of glass-like material and part of the colony’s central hub showing in the distance. Sprouting from the colony’s surface were several elevators. Their appearance was akin to the spokes of a bicycle tire.
Considering the existence of these elevator “spokes” connected to the central hub of this space colony, it may be more appropriate to call it a bicycle tire-type rather than a doughnut-type.
After thoroughly enjoying the sight of the colony’s interior, I started to casually stroll about. Most of the people around me were giving me strange looks, but I can’t help it, man. I’m seeing all of these for the first time in person, after all.
But, in any case, it wasn’t good to be too laid back. The state of public order within this colony can be considered “normal”. If I take the public order situation of my former home, in other words, Japan, and apply it as a standard, it would be considered “ideal” in this world. Well, you’d get a sense for the state of public security in this place if you consider the fact that an outsider like me was allowed to carry a laser gun and show it off without any trouble.
Moreover, the only area an outsider like me was allowed to visit was an area called the 3rd Block. You couldn’t exactly call it a slum, but the security was apparently the worst. I really don’t want to stay here too long.
All of the guys who took glances at me here had this sort of “rough” atmosphere about them. They seemed to be some small-time thugs and quickly disappeared into the back alleys sporting somewhat regretful expressions the moment they spotted my laser gun. Guess this laser gun really was an effective deterrent.
“Hey there, newbie. You got a pretty good gun on you, huh?”
The moment my nerves somewhat settled down after experiencing the intimidation effect of my laser gun, I was suddenly called out to from behind.
When I turned around, I saw a beautiful silver-haired girl staring back at me.
She sported a level of beauty I’ve never experienced before. She had even facial features and a short bob composed of extremely thin strands of silvery hair. She had a slim but shapely build, with not a single ounce of extra fat on.
But her most striking feature was the pair of pointy ears poking out of her silver hair. Elf? An elf in Space? I thought this was a sci-fi setting? Why’d you suddenly spring Fantasy out on me, man? Stella Online didn’t have a race like this, as far as I remember…
But, come to think of it, pointy-eared aliens in sci-fi worlds was kinda a standard thing, too, huh? It’s actually nothing to get so worked up about, after all.
And her clothes… how should I put this? They look pretty soldier-like and seemed quite rugged.
Although she looked like an elf, she didn’t have much skin exposure and didn’t wear a fluttery outfit. She wore pants that looked pretty sturdy and practical and a plain white shirt enveloped by a tough-looking jacket. She also sported a hip holster that held a laser gun of a smaller model compared to mine.
“What’s with you? You’ve been staring me down for quite a while.”
“Uh, if you were suddenly called out to by a stranger, you’d normally be wary, right? It’s sort of common sense.”
“I suppose so. But I’m not a suspicious person. You can tell just from looking, right? I’m a mercenary just like you!”
The merc-style silver-haired elf girl then raised her chest while sporting a cheery grin. Her chest size… doesn’t seem so special, huh. That said, it wasn’t like she was completely flat or anything. Was this a world which denied the rights of elves to sport substantial frontal assets? Nah, I can’t just generalize by taking this unfortunate looking space elf as a standard.
“Hey, just where do you think you’re looking at?”
The unfortunate looking space elf noticed the direction of my gaze and covered up her meager chest with her hands while sporting a grumpy expression.
“I was just looking at those lacking breasts you seem to be so proud of, Miss. What of it?”
“‘What of it?’, he says. You’ve got quite some guts there, don’t you, newbie,” the unfortunate space elf glared menacingly at me and made a dangerous looking smile. Oh boy. Looks like making her angry was a bad idea. She’s got a laser gun with her and all.
“At any rate, how did you determine that I was a newcomer? Do I have something on me which indicates such a status?”
“Well, first, stop it with your fake polite language. It’s making me have goosebumps.”
“Well, that laser gun you have on your shoulder pegs you right away as a mercenary.”
She’s right. Looking closely, there didn’t seem to be anyone else wearing rugged pants and scruffy jackets like me and the disappointing elf. Everybody else was wearing thin, refreshing looking clothes. We really did stand out from the rest of the crowd because of our outfits.
“And also, you were strangely taken by the appearance of the colony’s interior right? It’s standard behavior by bumpkins who’d just started travelling away from their hometowns.”
“I see. This disappointing space elf-san sure is smart.”
“What did you just say?”
“Oh, nothing really. So, what’s my smart mercenary-senpai want from me?”
For just an instant, I got assaulted by overflowing killing intent. Guess it’s truly dangerous to point out the cruel truth to people with smallish breasts. I better be more careful next time.
“……Hmm. Well, no matter. I actually have too much free time on my hands right now, you see.”
“I noticed the Sector Defense Forces making some suspicious movements lately, but I don’t have any definite info, so I ended up quite free. It really looks like something’s up, so leaving the colony isn’t an option. But this colony doesn’t have anything interesting in it. So I’m really bored out of my mind.”
“So I just happened to notice a newbie-looking boy loitering around without a care. I just went over to tease you a bit.”
Guess I kinda understood but kinda didn’t at the same time. Well, since she’s the one who came over to me, let’s make the most out of it. I’ll get to obtain some more info. The other person could kill some time. It’s a win-win relationship.
“Okay, then. Let’s kill some time by taking me to a place where we can buy some grub, senpai.”
“Eh, what should I do? The food shops here don’t have any alcohol so they’re not interesting.”
Alcohol? Booze huh…
That reminds me, don’t I still have the containers with the brewed liquor I got from those pirates inside my cargo bay? They won’t sell for much anyway, and I don’t particularly like drinking myself… Guess I’ll use that.
“I have one container full of brewed liquor I plundered from some pirates inside my ship’s cargo bay.”
“I’ll give it to you. Just take me to a convenience store or something in exchange. Also, I’d be happy if you could answer my questions and give me some appropriate advice as a senpai.”
The disappointing space elf tilted her head sideways in thought, and finally nodded after a few moments.
“I suppose that will be fine. I’d be able to stave off some boredom, and getting to drink some alcohol is definitely a tempting proposal. Agreed. In return, I shall tell you all about the ins and outs of being a mercenary. I, your ‘Senpai’, will do so for you!”
This disappointing space elf strangely emphasized that “senpai” part, huh. Oh well. I don’t really mind her putting on airs as a great senior or something. Her looks weren’t half-bad and her reactions were pretty interesting, so it’s all good.
“OK, then it’s a deal. Uh, we do exchanges through terminals, right? I’ll register you on mine, so give me your I.D.”
“Alright. But if you use it for something bad, I’ll immediately block you.”
We took out our portable data terminals and exchanged contact I.D. info. Looks like this girl’s name was Elma. Since we’ve exchanged I.D.s, it’s now possible to trade goods between ships using the terminals.
“Hm. So you’re Hiro. Such a simple sounding name.”
“Get off my case. And Elma’s a pretty simple sounding name too, y’know.”
“Mine’s got one more character than yours¹.”
“Yup. You’re right, huh.”
Why do I seem to enjoy teasing this girl so much? I actually have a smug grin plastered on my face right now. Maybe I was feeling a bit more lonely than I thought and relished her company.
I immediately operated my terminal and sent the container with the alcohol to Elma’s ship. The transaction was immediately approved and the booze was successfully transferred.
“Just how exactly do goods get transferred over with this?”
“You didn’t know? You can access the material transport system via connecting to the hangar network. You can freely exchange goods by making use of this material transport system.”
“Hm. I see.”
Looks like the process of unloading goods and cargo in this era is completely automated, huh. The use of human labor in order to unload things from ships has been abolished.
“How long have you been an active mercenary, Elma?”
“Five years. If you remain active for five years, you’re already considered a veteran in our circles.”
“Hm, that so.”
If she’s been active as a mercenary for five years, then she’d started her career before Stella Online went live. In a certain sense, she really was my senior.
“I see. You’re really my senpai, huh. I’ll be in your care, then.”
“Well, aren’t you suddenly all nice and proper? Ma~a, it’s certainly good to give appropriate respect to your elders.”
“Even though I look like this, I’m already 53 years old this year.”
“……You’re purposely making yourself look young!?”
I can only see a young girl not even twenty before me.
“We only live a little longer than you humans. No matter how long-lived a person from your race is, they’d only reach about 150 years old. We, however, live for at least 500.”
“I see. So it’s the difference between races… It’s been five years since you began your mercenary career, so you would have been 48 years old when you first started out. Just what kind of lifestyle did you lead before becoming one?”
“D- Does that even matter!? Trying to dig up a mercenary’s past is a great breach of manners, I’ll have you know!”
Elma seems to have lost her cool after hearing my question. She kept scolding away while jabbing her index finger in my direction. Looks like I poked the hornet’s nest. I raised both hands to indicate my surrender.
“I get it. I won’t ask about it, alright? I’m sorry for letting my curiosity get the better of me. But, considering how strongly you reacted, I’m guessing there’s something about your past which would spell trouble if it gets found out, huh?”
“Uuuh… We- Well, it’s good that you understand.”
Looks like it was something really troublesome. I don’t want to get overly involved in something like that, so I’ll try not to bring it up again.
I lined myself up beside Elma, who just recovered her composure and started walking, and asked about things related to mercenary work. I had this earlier impression of her as a disappointing space elf so I was a little concerned about what she would discuss with me, but the contents turned out to be quite informative.
“If you want to take on a request, be sure to run it through the Mercenary Guild first. More so if you don’t want to get into any sort of trouble.”
“The Mercenary Guild, huh. Oh yeah. Guess I’ll have to get myself registered soon.”
“Ha~a! Apart from being a complete newbie, you’re also unregistered? Get yourself registered properly before concerning yourself with supplies, you idiot!”
“Ah, yes. I’m sorry.”
My jacket was grabbed with surprising force, and I was dragged back to the area we were at before. Looks like the office of the Mercenary Guild was located near the elevator leading to the hangar bay. Elma angrily explained just how dangerous the standing of an unregistered mercenary was on the way.
It seems that an unregistered mercenary unaffiliated with a guild would be treated no better than a criminal if one messes up, apart from being unable to claim any mission rewards. In some cases, one might even be refused port entry.
“Man, that’s harsh.”
“Well, of course it is! Unknown individuals unaffiliated with any organization wandering around with a ship powerful enough to seriously damage or destroy a space colony or station would, of course, be treated with maximum caution! That’s just common sense! How in the world did you manage to not get in trouble until now!?”
“We~ll, there’s sort of a story worthy of a bucket-full of tears behind my current circumstances, y’see.”
I continued to be dragged away by Elma while I talked about some stupid stuff, and we finally reached the Mercenary Guild office. Guess I’ll have to explain my circumstances all over again.
Still, this place was a hundred times more beautiful than the image of a Mercenary Guild I had in my head.
The floor was made of some unknown, glossy material. There were a number of seats with comfy looking cushions lined up in what seems to be a waiting area. Beyond them were several counters.
Each counter had an information display on top of them. The number of people inside was quite sparse. Is business not doing so hot perhaps?
“Doesn’t this seem more like a government office than a mercenary guild office?”
“It’s somewhat similar. C’mon. Let’s go to the reception counter.”
“Understood, big sis.”
I was dragged by Elma all the way to the reception counter.
- Hiro’s name in katakana: ヒロ (hiro) / 2 characters. Elma’s name in katakana: エルマ (eruma) / 3 characters. It’s a joke you won’t get unless you know your Japanese characters.